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Watch A Full Jóhann Jóhannsson Performance At KEXP


Jim Beckmann, KEXP

"I don't like to use the [verb] 'perfect,' " Jóhann Jóhannsson told KEXP's Kevin Cole during his visit to the Seattle member station last summer, where he played selections from his 2016 album, Orphée, an interpretation of the Orpheus myth. "It's just finished when it needs to be finished."

In speaking with Cole, or in performance at venues as grand as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Johannsson always came across as a humble thinker: His clipped, plain explanations seemed to be the primary-colored outward palette of an ultraviolet interior world. The sensibility of his work — dramatic and maudlin, heady and hopeful — was enough to fuel two lifetimes of inquiry, which made his death this past Saturday, at the age of 48, all the more shocking and saddening.

Jóhannsson's work was most often heard thundering within movie theaters, via the scores he created to films such as Sicario, Arrival and The Theory of Everything. Watching him here — a maestro and a keyboard, joined by the Contemporary Music Ensemble to bring his last solo album to life — is a strange experience: a humble setting, a soft-spoken artist, a universal sound.

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